Bad is Beautiful
Joshua Griffit paints beautifully. Too beautiful to be real. Too good to be true. The sarcastic exaggeration is so elusive that we are unable to understand what he is actually telling us. To some extent, we can say that Griffit commits an unpardonable sin of modern art and media: He overestimates his viewers, readers and visitors.
Federico Fellini said that everyone knows that time means death. As a director of paintings, Griffit tries to ensure that everyone knows, understands and internalizes this. His way of achieving this goal – to convey this message – is by taunting us. His paintings are flooded with strong, bright colors. A vintage aircraft taking off. Studs adorned with hats, flirtatious ladies, cars with intense features. This (perhaps) is the way we were, but in the meantime, for now, Griffit’s hyperrealism is merely the starting point for the real story. After the “Once upon a time” comes the horror. The aircraft will crash from the sky, the ships’ sails will tear, steam boilers will be launched causing undoubtable disasters, the guys and ladies turn into dummies and amputees. The good life – and our dreams of a better future – is, in fact, only catalogued memories. Without a present, without a future.
The technique, which can be nicknamed “copy-paste,” is a jumble of components, characters, pieces from significant works of art – like how programmers tend to attach “ready-made sentences” to a new code. He then edits them into new contexts, connecting the past and the present in a way that indicates, by way of extrapolation, that we are all heroes in the story’s plot – some more tragic than others.
Griffit's comments and citations on art history, the ways in which he "questions and cites" elements of well-known works, such as "second-hand thoughts", indicate a certain lack of perfection, processes that we witness while they are happening, the journey that has not yet reached its destination. And in the meantime, it is used to make a more refined, focused, sharpened and accurate mockery of us, the way in which we are innocently trying to accumulate retirement assets to “ensure the future.” The future, according to Griffit, is here with us in the present. It looks quietly over our shoulders, waiting confidently for a moment that it deems appropriate and then steps inside. The future is spectacularly bad, it is hell, it is aging, it is loss, it is death. And the cause of death – as already revealed by John le Carré – is birth.
Curator: Yivsam Azgad.